Man could get new trial in 2012 death of security guard
A ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court could result in a new trial for one of the men convicted in the murder of a Detroit 300 member nearly six years ago.
Carl R. Bruner II was found guilty of the slaying of Marcel Jackson, a member of the formerly-named Detroit 300, a city-based crime-fighting patrol group who was working as a security guard for a downtown Detroit nightclub when he was shot June 19, 2012. The group is now referred to as the Detroit 300 Community Action Team.
A witness who was expected to testify was not available to attend but prosecutors got permission from the judge to use a transcript of that person’s testimony from a preliminary examination.
The state’s highest court ruled that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office erred in using the transcript of testimony instead of a live witness during Bruner’s joint trial with Lawson before a single jury. The court said Bruner’s defense attorney never had a chance to cross-examine the witness, in violation of the confrontation clause of the 6th Amendment, which mandates that an individual has the right to confront his accuser in court.
The state’s highest court ruled that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office erred in using a transcript of testimony instead of a live witness during Bruner’s joint trial with Lawson before one jury.
The court said Bruner’s defense attorney never had a chance to cross-examine the witness whose testimony was contained in the transcript saying it was a confrontation clause of the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that an individual has the right to confront their accuser in court.
Bruner’s case has been sent back to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which had earlier upheld Bruner’s conviction, “to consider whether the prosecution has established the preserved constitutional error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt,” the high court said in its ruling.
If the Court of Appeals agrees, Bruner could likely have a new trial sometime later this year, defense attorney David Moffitt said. He was sentenced to life in prison.
“The Supreme Court at oral argument January 12, 2018, vigorously questioned the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office’s tactic of attempting to use only the transcript without adequate safeguards instead of a witness at the trial,” he said.
Moffitt added: “The trial prosecutor put on a clinic of what not to do when your key witness supposedly disappears in midtrial.”
Moffitt said he expects that the judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals will not regard the error as merely harmless, because “one of the judges of the Court of Appeals that supported the now-reversed conviction specifically noted the seriousness of what the high court (Wednesday) deemed error.”
Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, said: “Currently the Michigan Supreme Court has remanded this case back to the Court of Appeals to determine whether there was harmless error in the case. We’ll wait for that issue to be decided.”
Reached Thursday, Jackson’s widow, Hollie, said she was not aware of the court’s ruling but added, “We do stand by the decision from that trial. We do believe he is guilty. If we have to go to trial we will. We will continue to make sure justice is and will continue to be served for (Marcel).”
Jackson and another security guard were shot following an argument with Bruner and his co-defendant, Michael Lawson.
Bruner and Lawson allegedly waited outside the Pandemonium nightclub on East Congress and opened fired on the other security guard and Jackson, who died from his injuries.
Bruner was the alleged shooter and was allegedly aided and abetted by Lawson, according to police and court documents.
The night he was killed, Jackson had reportedly removed a man, who authorities identified as Bruner, from Pandemonium for hitting a woman. The man returned to the bar after closing, allegedly to retrieve his cellphone, but security guards would not let him back inside because he refused to be patted down for possible weapons.
The man returned with someone else and fired shots. Bruner and Lawson were arrested after a two-year investigation.
Jackson, a 39-year-old married father of six, was the owner of the Southfield executive protection agency United Security and Urban Services.